Rep. Ayanna Pressley schools Fed Chair Powell on Civil Rights

Congresswoman educates colleague on Dr. King's work in social and economic justice, stating that his 'legacy is often reduced to just one speech'

CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA – FEBRUARY 01: Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) introduces Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) during a campaign rally at Kohawk Arena on the campus of Coe College. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) taught Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell a Civil Rights Movement history lesson on Tuesday.

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At the end of the House Financial Services Committee meeting, Pressley told Powell that the belief that anyone who wants to work should be able to work goes back to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. During the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King and wife, Coretta Scott King, advocated for full employment policies for all Americans, which has come to be known as a “jobs guarantee,” according to Business Insider.

“In a 1944 address, FDR called for a second Bill of Rights which included the right to a useful and financially rewarding job,” Pressley told Powell. “Justice Thurgood Marshall argued that the Right to a Job is secured by the 14th Amendment. And Dr. Martin Luther King called on the government to guarantee a job to all people who want to work, and are able to work.”

“Dr. King’s legacy is often reduced to just one speech, and the March on Washington often mischaracterized. The March on Washington was actually the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was a March for Economic Justice,” Pressley said, reported Forbes.

“And I take special claim to the fact that Dr. King and Coretta actually met in Boston. I represent Boston, and I don’t think she gets enough oxygen for the role that she played in the movement,” Pressley continued. “And so, after Dr. King’s assassination, Coretta Scott King picked up the mantle, pushing the Fed to adopt a full employment mandate, and was actually standing behind President (Jimmy) Carter as he signed the Humphrey-Hawkins Act into law. And that’s the reason you are here today.”

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Powell appeared to look stunned before commenting: “First, thank you for that history, I didn’t know that. So that’s our goal, that’s what we’re working to do at all times,” Powell stated about the notion of full employment. “And we’re never going to say we’ve accomplished that goal, but we’ve certainly made some progress.”

In the words of Biggie Smalls, “and if you don’t know now you know.”